How to Cut a Mat for Framing

An easy, straightforward guide to cutting your own mat.  To learn about picking out a mat, check out: How to Chose the Right Mat for Your Art Print

I’m going to be demonstrating how to cut your own mat with an 8”x10” art print with an 11”x14” frame. But you can use this basic idea fit any size art print and mat.


X-acto knife or box cutter
Bevel mat cutter (I’m using a simple handheld one)
Mat board
Cutting mat 

materials needed for cutting your own mat


Step 1: Cut Mat to Size

Use your X-acto knife or box cutter to cut a piece of mat board the same size as your frame.  Most store bought frames come with a cardboard backer - you can use this as a template by tracing around it. If your frame didn't come with a backer, just use your ruler to measure it out. 

Don’t forget to put down your cutting mat first!

cut a mat the same size as your frame

Step 2: Measure the Opening

This next bit involves a tiny bit of math but it’s simple, I promise.

The opening in the mat needs to be a bit smaller than your art print so that it doesn’t fall through. I typically like to have about 1/4” on both sides (so 1/2” total).

For example: If I have an 8"x10" art print, the opening will be 7.5" x 9.5"

To get the opening centered on the mat, we’ll subtract the width of the opening from the width of the mat. 

I’m using an 11x14 mat so...

11" - 7.5" = 3.5"
Then divide that by 2 to get 1.75"
That’s your borders on either side.

Do the same thing to find the top and bottom borders

14" - 9.5" = 4.5"
Divided by 2 = 2.25"

So you have 1.75" on either side and 2.25" on the top and bottom

Mark this on the back side of your mat.

mark your opening

Step 3: Cut the Opening

Now you’re ready to cut the opening in your mat. It’s important to go slow and take you time here.

Line up your mat cutter with your ruler. The cutting edge needs ride on the inside of the lines. 

line up your blade and ruler

make sure the blade runs along the inside edge

Press down on the blade and slowly cut from line to line. It’s better to go a little past your mark than it is to not cut far enough. Make sure to keep firm pressure on the ruler through the entire cut so that it doesn't move. 

Do this on all four sides and then the center piece will fall out.

cut mat

Now all you need to do is center your art print behind the mat and secure it with archival tape. 

Easy peasy.

matted art print of carrots